CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Andre Davis said he was working at Captain D's off Eastway Drive in Charlotte when a 17-year-old girl ran inside.
Police said 25-year-old Patrick McManus has been arrested after he reportedly took the teenage girl against her will and assaulted her.
McManus is charged with kidnapping and human trafficking.
“He was following her, and my manager told him, ‘No, you're not allowed in the girl's bathroom,’” Davis said. “Everybody was panicking. They didn't know if he had a gun. Like, it was crazy in here."
Police said they were called to a motel on Reagan Drive around 4:50 p.m. on Sept. 14 for a report of a 17-year-old who had been assaulted and kidnapped. Officers said the victim and suspect left before they arrived.
Officers were then called to the Captain D’s around 5:38 p.m the same day. The 911 caller said a woman who had been kidnapped was inside the restaurant.
Police said officers located the victim and McManus, who was arrested on the scene.
"The manager grabbed cleaning supplies to act like she was cleaning the bathroom the whole time when I was on the phone with police."
CMPD's Human Trafficking Unit was brought in to investigate and found the 17-year-old victim had known McManus for less than a week.
Police said the girl told them she was staying at nearby Royal Inn where McManus was also staying.
Court documents show the teen said he told her he loved her, but was physically abusive and then forced her into prostitution so he could buy drugs.
“That's crazy,” Davis said. "At a young age, that's real, that's real bad."
The girl told detectives that McManus demanded she work as a prostitute to earn him money. She said when she refused, he threatened and assaulted her.
She told police she lied to McManus and tried to hide, but he found her, choked her and forced her into his car while he was holding a Taser.
The victim was taken to a hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.
"Nobody would want that to happen to their kid,” Davis said.
Detectives said the teen put up a fight for more than two miles and attempted to jump out of the moving car.
"About a minute after I got off the phone, the police was here,” Davis said.
Police said McManus was being taken to the Mecklenburg County Jail after his interview when he was able to move his handcuffed hands to the front of his body and assault the officer who was driving.
Police said he spit on two officers that responded and kicked the patrol car door.
McManus was eventually restrained. Police said McManus had minor injuries after the incident and was taken to Novant Health for evaluation.
McManus is charged with kidnapping, human trafficking, assault on a female, assault by strangulation, assault on a government official, damage to property, two counts of malicious conduct by a prisoner, resist/obstruct/delay and promoting prostitution. He is in jail under a $120,000 bond.
Police are asking anyone who has information about this case or suspect to call CrimeStoppers at 704-334-1600.
Channel 9 uncovered two more human trafficking arrests this week. The victim in the most recent case was 14 years old.
North Carolina Rep. Bill Brawley, R-Mecklenburg, said those cases prove human trafficking is an epidemic in Charlotte and across the entire state.
There are new laws on the books to fight this crime and help save women.
He said the state must stop the epidemic.
In the last few months, new laws kicked in to fight the crime and allocate $1.5 million to organizations like Lilly Pad Haven to save women.
“We would like to train hospitality community,” Lily Pad Haven Executive Director Pat Krikorian said. “We have lots of hotels, motels and salons.”
Brawley said Senate Bill 162 designates minors who are trafficked as victims of abuse, allowing them to receive help through the Department of Health and Human Services.
“Nobody knows how many there are,” Brawley said. “It could be thousands and I believe it is.”
Victims can sue traffickers for damages, lost wages and medical care while being held as a slave.
The $1.5 million for rescue groups has not been doled out yet. They're working on a way to verify groups are legitimate.
Brawley said the new laws do not go far enough and need to be acted upon more quickly.
He wants more funding for rescue groups, tougher penalties for traffickers, improved victims’ rights and education so people know how to spot the crime.
There's been a push to train workers in certain industries how to spot victims.
Some human trafficking victims are forced to change their hair and appearances.
Salon workers are urged to pay attention if a girl or woman comes in and doesn't speak much or make eye contact.
In the airline industry, workers are trained to look for warning signs like a passenger who doesn't know many details about their trip or has someone else speaking up for them.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department couldn’t give an exact number of human-trafficking cases but recent data shows Charlotte is one of the top 20 sex-trafficking hubs in the U.S.
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, is also one of the top human-trafficking sites in the country.
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